Why Congress, why in Warsaw?

This is not going to be the first AICT/IATC congress that will take place in Warsaw. To be precise it will be the third one in the capital city and the fourth one in Poland. That is a significant number, especially if we remember that there are 40 national sections from all over the world united under AICT. Due to the fact that one of the founders of the  organisation was many years` president of the Theatre Critique Club of the Polish Journalists Association, and held the presidentship of the AICT/IATC for many years afterwards, Polish section feels obliged to give impulses to the association as well as influence its shape.

There is more to it than simply historical factors. The previous congress took place in Warsaw almost twenty years ago, shortly after the system transformation. Polish culture and Polish theatre were the favourite child of  Europe playing the role of „the merriest barrack“ of the former socialist realism chamber. On behalf of that we were privileged with a special attention. Two decades away the situation is no more privileged therefore it is worth to confront Polish theatre with the opinion of international critique. What is more, it is important to show the entangled paths of not only Polish contemporary theatre but also the theatres all over the world facing new historical circumstances. It should be an impulse to summarise, draw conclusions and make attempts to prognosticate the future. The AICT congresses provide an opportunity for the above mentioned as they allow a closer approach to the culture of the hosting country. This time our guests are invited to take an extraordinary route through the Polish culture. We would like to invite you to a tour through the Mazovian Country with stops at Żelazowa Wola. In association with the Warsaw City Hall we will also organise the time for presenting the theatres of the capital city.  
The AICT Congresses have their inner logic. Colloquiums on a chosen topic, this time it is THEATRE BEYOND THE THEATRE, Thalia Award celebrations, given to a scholar, theatre critic, or theatre practitioner whose writings have significantly influenced critical thinking about the art of theatre –  the winner of its fourth Thalia Prize for Critical Writing is dance and theatre critic Ms. Kapila Vatsyayan of New Delhi, India.
During the Warsaw Congress we will celebrate the World Theatre Day – it will be a good occassion for the international crictics and the representatives of the Warsaw theatre community to meet in a small, popular Teatr Ateneum at the back of  Vistula river. The second opportunity to talk to Polish theatemakers will be a panel in witch the directors of various theatre trupes are to participate. What is more the Congress is organised during the XXXII Warsaw Theatre Meetings, traditional Show Case where we can observe the new fenomena from Polish provincial stages. We also invite you to visit Warsaw theatres beside the congress’ schedule.  
The new soul of our meeting – we hope – should bring a young critics seminar, always very atractive for the tutors (Jean-Pierre Han and Mark Brown) and participants. That is our future.
Above all else though, it is an important international meeting, where opinions, traditions, points of view and temperaments cross, new ideas are born and the discourse continues. That is in fact the essence of our meetings which appear to be simply routine ones. Dialogue, building bridges among the cultures,  strengthening ties among everybody, who treats culture and theatre in particular as their important common language. That in the end is the answer to the questions: Why the congress, why in Warsaw.  

Tomasz Milkowski

XXVI AICT Congress  
Organising Committee Chairman


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